Monday, September 20, 2010

Lake Crazy

Well, it's been a not-so-quiet week at Lake Crazy.

It's been a long week, a short week, depending on how you look at it, but for all involved, it was a week that marked the culmination of months of planning and preparation for this bunch of fiercely independent theatrical types.  All of us gathered together--in assorted capacities but with a single purpose--to bring laughter, to bring tears, to transport Greenfield theatre audiences to a small carport beauty shop in Chinquapin, Louisiana.  

It went well.  No one said 'chicken' when they should have said 'dog', or 'gun' or 'baby' or 'tomato'.  A glass broke, the coffee had enough sugar, and issues with purses, coats, hats, food, doors, shoes, and hair all remedied themselves through the weekend run.

 The captain of our ship was all smiles--he and the first mate handing out hugs, notes, flowers, and praise like candy.  Our audiences were modest, but enthusiastic.  Their laughter and applause--music to our ears--encouraged each of us to bring what we each needed to bring, and in doing so, we earned their ovation at curtain call.

It was quite a week.  We all learned something.  We learned there's no need to be a high-maintenance diva because the stage crew treats us like royalty.  We learned that we enjoy being nice to each other.  We learned the chicken walk and that the show goes on--even after a mistake--and that life goes on.  We learned that audiences full of the ones we love are the best audiences.  We learned that it's what we have inside that matters.  We learned how much it takes to do what we do.  We learned that it's OUR opinion of ourselves that matters most.


It was an amazing weekend.  The Mama brought a year's worth of grief and joy to her performance and left us weeping in our seats and wondering at the strength of the human soul.  The daughter left the tatters of a paper bag on the Dungeon floor, broke a glass in her realistic portrayal, and broke through the fourth wall into the hearts of the audience.  She had point to prove and did so with no reservations.  The mouse showed us that she was ever so much more than Daddy's Girl.  She's theatre's child.  And even one-word lines can bring a chuckle.  The former mayor's wife acted with such a natural presence that if she showed up at your door with a tin of pecan tassies, you'd mistake her for your grandmother and invite her to stay through the holidays.  The laughter of the singer turned actress turned hairstylist was the glue that held it all together, as she brushed and teased and primped for two hours and 15 minutes, holding ever fast to her tenet that "There's no such thing as natural beauty".  And that grouchy ol' broad in the wacky hat finally learned to relax, delegate, and enjoy the ride.  If she's not careful, she'll get too comfortable in that back dressing room.

We all shared.  We wept together as sisters on stage and shared hugs as a cast, as a production team, as CrazyLake Acting Company, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  That's what we know and we do what we do, and next weekend, we get to do it again.  We'll be heading back to Chinquapin Friday night and Saturday. Come and go with us.  Get your hair done at Truvy's.  Share the love.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Machine

All this time, we've called it 'the KidsPlay Machine'.  By 'machine' I mean the tried and true, tightly efficient, time-perfected way that we band together to accomplish anything huge--Move Day, the performances, our day-time matinees, community projects--anything we do.  It always amazes me the parents who come out of the woodwork to 'make it happen'.  And it does.  I'm always amazed at their willingness to work hard, the above-and-beyond the call of duty and detail that putting on a production is--and how we make it happen.  Whatever we've done, whatever grand schemes we concoct, I know that the ever-amazing KidsPlay machine will be behind us and it will be successful.

But I may have to rethink this a little.  We are most of the way through the 'heavy-lifting phase' of "Steel Magnolias".  Our director (Dennis Cole) and our assistant director (Christy Laudig) assembled a team of more than 25 people for building, painting, set, props, costumes, moving, lobby, tickets, concessions--and a good number of them have never worked on a KidsPlay production.  They are a CrazyLake Machine.   Every bit as efficient, dedicated, and HARD-WORKING as the KidsPlay parents, and every bit as amazing.

In fact, I have to say, that following our very long day of Tech (the one day where we dismantle our set in the Dungeon rehearsal space, load it onto a trailer, reassemble it in the theatre, work with sound and lights and all the technical  aspects for the first time, and finish with a full run-through of the show), I was quite touched by the number of Facebook posts commenting not only on weariness and the length of the day, but by what a good time they had, what a good group of people with which they worked, the camaraderie of the team, and the 'good tired' feeling of having worked hard to accomplish a common goal.  I was moved by that.  It made me smile.

And I think that's what sets us--KidsPlay and CrazyLake--apart from the others:  the sense of team, the sense of family, the sense of appreciation from those of us who plan and dream and see the vision of what we're trying to accomplish.  Without these good friends, this strong support, this theatre family that is willing to band together to move the mountains we imagine, we are leaders of nothingness.  Without them, it would not happen.  And without them, it wouldn't be nearly as fun.  So here's to you, Bill and Joe and Ted and Jim and Rachel and Amelia and Pat and Johnny and Aaron and Amanda and Lex and Beth and....  You are the power behind the dream.

Missing the KidsPlayers....

My dear KidsPlayers--

You'll be rehearsing without me again this evening.  Please don't think I've forgotten you.  You're in my mind all the time, and I hope you'll forgive my missing presence.  But as I know you know, I'm in a play of my own this time (only the fourth one ever--most of you have more theatre experience in your short lives than I've had in 51 years!!) 

I do, hope, however, that you'll all make it to see "Steel Magnolias" some time over the next couple of weeks.  It's September 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, at 8 p.m. (6 p.m. on Sunday).  Then you'll see what all the fuss has ben about.  You'll see Jim Vetters' mom, you'll see Mr. Jacobs' wife, you'll see Ian, Alec, and Aubree's sister Payton.  I think we're pretty good and I think you'll enjoy it.  And if you make it to the show, don't forget to hang around in the lobby to give me a hug.  That's what we theatre types live for, you know.  Laughter and hugs.  ;-)

So do a good job this evening.  I look forward to seeing you all on Thursday to block the last part of the show.  I love flowers, but I love cowboys, too.

Love, love, love--


Friday, September 3, 2010

Ouiser Inside

There's always something about a full's a milepost, a turning point, a breakthrough moment. 

We ran through the whole show this evening, and I come home with almost an other worldly detachment from the mundane aspects of life.  My body is here, but my brain and my soul are still at the Dungeon...thinking about it, smoothing rough spots, pondering the differences between last night's rehearsal and this one.  I feel calm, relaxed, triumphant, immersed in character and in thinking through my parts and my character portrayal again and again. 

I think I found her tonight--Ouiser, the whole person.  Standing outside the door waiting for my entrance, I straightened my back and held my chin up, a different carriage than I've had before, and it was her.  I felt it in my bones.  I moved through a range of postures and finally found the way SHE stands.  Proud, backs down to no one, a mixture of Jayme, and my grandmother, and the restaurant owner, all stirred into one person. 

We are working so hard as a cast.  I think we make great leaps with each rehearsal.  Some leaps are more obvious on given nights than others.  Shelby is good, getting more so every night; Payton IS Annelle--she's perfectly cast; CVett also gets better every night--her emotional scene at the end will ultimately be her best moment ever on stage; Shari's laughter adds so much to the whole 'feel' of the show, each scene; and Jan as Clairee could not be more natural on stage if she tried.  It's all very true.  Very human.


I'm too tired to wash my hair this evening.  I should, but it will have to wait until morning.  My sadistic director and my like-minded cast-mates seem to be deriving great pleasure from ME being the one selected for the facial, the mustache waxing, the 'goop in hair'.  Me, probably the lowest maintenance person on the stage, and I have to put up with all these 'beauty' treatments.  Tonight, I got medical tape on my upper lip, cream all over my face, strands of hair pulled through a cap of sorts for...what...? Highlights, and then, the coup-de-gras:  they painted on a mixture of creme rinse and baking soda.  Gooey, then stiff and icky.  Ha.  Yeah.  Funny, guys.  Hope you're having a good time.  *I* have to take my curtain call in that mess.

An epic and memorable moment coming to the Ricks.  September 17, 18, 18, 24, 25.  If you don't have your tickets yet.  Probably should get them: